Converting Desktop to Rackmount for Live Rig?

Knowing how much IT expertise there is in here along with piano expertise…

I upgraded my rack computer over the ahem forced break, but now that gigs might be on the horizon soon, I have to figure out what to do with this desktop PC. For reasons of space and weight, I’d rather not just cram the whole thing into my rack. I’m wondering about trying to convert it into in a rackmount unit. Only thing is that it’s a SFF with an unusual motherboard layout, so I’m not sure if it’s going to line up with a standard configuration.

Does anyone have experience with using a rackmount conversion unit for a desktop? Any advice on modifying if necessary to accomodate the motherboard?

You are probably correct that a motherboard out of a dell SFF form factor PC doens’t have standard mounting holes so that might be a roadblock

I built some single space rack computers a while back. They were very large because the drives were 3.5" and the power supplies being flat took up a good amount of space. We used SuperMicro so I took a look - they do have a single rack chassis that isn’t like the pizza boxes were used:

Maybe you should find a mini ITX form motherboard that can take the chip and memory you have.

I have a Dell Optiplex 990 that I used in a rack. I used perforated angle bracket that I attached to the rack so it would hold the PC in place. I used shallow 1/2” screws into the PC housing. You can open the case to make sure you are not screwing into anything. I used two along the top and two on the bottom. It worked great. I have since moved away from the rack, but still am using the PC. I’m searching for pics in my cloud account. It is a 3.4 gHZ,16GB RAM, a 2TB HDD as well as an SSD I mounted in the optic bay. It has 10 USB ports 6 rear and 4 on the front. Best part…it was under $300. Amazon refurbish. 2 1/2 yes. and still going strong. I’ll update when I find the pics

I built a 1U rack mount a few years ago. It was hard to get enough air moving through it. I upgraded the fans, and they were pretty noisy. (I had some singers complain.) I drilled some holes over the chip/fan stack and that helped some. Eventually, I went to a 2U so I could use a larger fan. I eventually discontinued it and went to a micro-mini desktop from ASRock, the Deskmini 310. Awesome. Can use a single super large fan and it’s totally quiet. I built two. One to replace my aging studio machine, one dedicated to C3. The studio machine can also serve as backup. It fits easily in a backpack. The studio machine has a Core i7 and the Cantabile machine has a Core i5. Not the latest, but plenty of power. And I used to work for HP and have about 10 laptops. This beats the stew out of any laptop because it’s desktop power (a brick). The C3 machine has 6TB and the Studio machine has 8TB, all 2TB SSD.

Is the Deskmini mounted to your rack somehow? Just fastened to a shelf?

No, I ditched the rack. The rack had gone from Korg and Roland hardware modules, to a Receptor, to a 1U computer + 1u Focusrite I/F, to 2u computer (5u SKB rack w/wheels). No joy. Still too heavy. I got an RME Babyface to replace the 1u Focusrite 40 and went through several laptops. Finally, (at @Torsten’s suggestion) got the DeskMini. Everything fits in a normal-sized backpack. If I’m using a provided keyboard, all I need is the backpack. (I also have a Pelican case for the Babyface and DeskMini just in case they may be treated roughly.)

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Understood-- Thanks for the clarification.

it may be a good idea to just buy a rack mountable server for live use. they are quite thin & easily fit into racks without much modifications. but then, u will still need a UPS to give constant power to your desktop. otherwise, power fluctuations will wipe out your gig. i dont see how a UPS can fit into a rack without lot of custom work.

I also used a Mini from ASRock. My system is about 3U, but nowhere near as wide or deep.


I also went from hardware keyboards and sound modules to building a custom system using mirrored Intel i5 NUCs, all fitting neatly in a 4U rack case.